Archive for the ‘Poison’ Category

A Vibrant, Beautiful Death for a Deadly Sea Creature

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

While it sounds like the last half of a Harry Potter book title, the Fire Urchin isn’t quite as fun.

Fire Urchins, which are found off the coast of Maui, Hawaii, get their name not from their typically blazing colorations but from the fantastically painful sting that comes from messing with one of these things. Not only are its red and white hair-like spikes venomous but at the base of each one of those tiny harpoons are small pincers containing even more poison just waiting to latch on to whatever prey wanders too close.

What’s fascinating about the above photo (looking directly down onto the urchin from above) and makes it really weird is that nature photographer David Fleetham caught, for the first time, one of these urchins in its final moments.

Looking at the center of the photo, you’ll see what looks like a bag of balls from a Chuck E. Cheese ball-pit…only not it’s quite as fun…

That sack is actually its entire insides being expelled through its mouth.

SO cute…right?

[New Scientist]

First Scientifically Confirmed Poisonous Birds

Monday, April 25th, 2011

This is from last year, so it is not new information or breaking news, but I am just hearing about this and it is fantastic. There are poisonous birds that are flying around on this planet. The Hooded Pitohui (Pitohui dichrous), Variable Pitohui (Pitohui kirhocephalus), and Brown Pitohiu (Pitohui ferrugineus) birds from New Guinea have a neurotoxin in their skin and feathers which causes numbness and tingling when handled. This neurotoxin is identical to the toxin from poison dart frogs and in high enough doses COULD KILL YOU.


Bald Eagles Are Back In California! Yay! They’re Eating Poison Seals! Boo!

Monday, May 3rd, 2010


After a careful reintroduction program, Bald Eagles are flourishing in the Channel Islands of California. The only problem is there are now so many of them that food resources have become an issue and researchers are worried they might start eating seals that are tainted with the same poison that wiped out the Eagle population in the 1960s.

To make ends meet, the predatory birds may be forced to scavenge on marine mammal carcasses, the blubber of which is still laced with DDT—the same pesticide that infamously led to the near extinction of bald eagles across the United States.

“Eagles are opportunistic, and as their population grows, they might switch their diets … to include carrion from local sea lion colonies, which is a very abundant food source, for sure,” said study co-author Seth Newsome, a biochemist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington D.C.

The more things change, the more Bald Eagles can’t stop finding new ways to gobble DDT.

[National Geographic]